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Christmas feeling Vincy style

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The Brooklyn-based United Vincie Cultural Group of Brooklyn (UVCGB) last Saturday night brought much nostalgia about Christmas to nationals with the staging of the group’s second annual serenading concert.

The concert, which attracted a large number of Vincentians, as well as Caribbean nationals, was held in the Fellowship Hall of Miracle Temple Ministries, an evangelical church in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, where many of UVCGB members worship.

Many nationals, as well as UVCGB members, participated largely in carol singing and speeches, as they reminisced about Christmas at home.

Dressed mainly in red – the popular color symbolizing the Christmas season – U VCGB members sang, among others, “Mary’s Boy Child” and “Christmas, Christmas,” and rendered the choral speech “The Gift.”

“Since in August, I hear Christmas Carols playing / Expensive gifts buying / Please take my advice / Don’t hang yo’ hat where yo’ hand can’t reach,” they said in part.

“Look around and see all that’s happening in sweet SVG (St. Vincent and the Grenadines),” they added. “So this December / Let it be a season to remember.”

UVCGB member Ralphie Cunningham recalled “singing out” in his hometown Chateaubelair and giving most of the speeches back in the 1970s.

“Good night to the Mistress and Master of this lovely cottage,” he recalled saying, before singing “Joy to the World,” with the audience joining in.

Zita Adams, a public school teacher in Brooklyn, struck up “O, Holy Night,” and Emily Mentos-James played, on harmonica (mouth organ), “Joy to the World,” “Once in Royal David City,” and “While Shepherd.”

Evangelist Shirley Browne rendered “Hear What Christmas Means to Me;” and Bequia native O’Brien Simmons, treasurer of the Brooklyn-based umbrella Vincentian group, Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organizations, U.S.A., Inc. (COSAGO), received rave reviews with “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” “Silent Night” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.”

Other performers, including singers and poets, comprised nationals from Jamaica, St. Lucia, Grenada, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.

UVCGB members distributed gifts to several children — and adults. Patrons feasted on local delicacies, such as callaloo soup, salt fish and bakes, dukuna and potato budding.

“It’s always fun when we come together,” Caren Charles-DeFreitas, a public school teacher in Brooklyn, told Caribbean Life afterwards.

“You get a sense of Christmas,” added Charles-DeFreitas, who served as mistress of ceremony. “It makes you yearn to be home.”

“It was very good,” said Don Sutherland, UVCGB musical arranger and cultural icon. “Our group is really promoting what Christmas is all about – with the family.”

Dr. Roxie Irish, UVCGB president, agreed, adding that it was a good occasion for fellowship.

“The people had lots of fun,” she said. “It shows what Christmas is all about. Christmas is all about family and kids.”

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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